Chi Wulff’s Friday Feast 17 March: Lisa’s Trail Ride Chicken and Dumplings

by Mark McGlothlin on March 17, 2012

in Friday Feast

Yep, it’s Saturday and we’re playing a little catch up with yesterday’s Friday Feast post. Real men cook on Saturday’s too.

She Who Must Be Obeyed, the famdamily and I first moved to the Flathead back in 2001; we set up housekeeping up on hill overlooking the sweet little valley just east of Smith Lake. The view of Glacier NP through the valley slot to the northeast was simple stunning. I sprayed over 200 gallons of paint the first few weeks painting the house, the barn (red of course) and a fair amount of fence to put a new face on the property.

The neighbors were duly impressed and came to check out the crazies painting everything that wasn’t moving. We soon took to spending time with the family at the bottom of the hill and the husband and wife on the next property down the road.

Now they (the down the roaders) were an interesting pair; she was an intelligent, kind, truly gifted chef who was about as unpretentious as they come. She handled fresh ingredients with a reverence we’ve rarely seen and loved our big garden on the hill.  He ended up being a son-of-a-bitch, but that’s yet another story. Her name was Lisa and she died due to throat cancer just three short years after we met her.

Lisa loved to teach others to cook; she organized a group that would go on trial rides on the neighboring forest service land and then meet in a nearby home for a cooking lesson.

After a ride on a cool and drizzly October Montana afternoon she taught the group the recipe for this delicious version of chicken and dumplings. This is one of those recipes that you need to trial just exactly as written the first time; the leeks, mushrooms and fresh thyme are essential and (obviously) favorites of ours.

And don’t forget to tip your hat to Lisa when you ladle this one up this spring.

4 chicken leg-thigh portions, separated into 8 pieces
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. sweet paprika
1/3 cup sherry or dry white wine
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme
2 quarts home-made chicken broth
4 celery stalks, chopped in 1 inch pieces
6 carrots, chopped in 1 inch pieces
12 ounces button mushrooms, quartered
2 leeks, chopped in 1 inch pieces (use three if you’re a leek fan)
1 large sweet onion, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 small Russet potato per intended serving, cut in to 1 inch pieces

Lisa’s Dumplings
1 cup flour
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. solid vegetable shortening
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup parsley, chopped fine

Brown the chick. Rinse the cut up chicken pieces and pat dry. Dust liberally with the paprika, add a bit of salt and pepper, then sear / brown the chicken in your trusty soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. When browned on both sides, remove chicken, drain oil and return chicken to the pot.

Make a stew. Add the sherry, broth, thyme, and all the prepared vegetables. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a gentle simmer for 90 minutes.

Dumpling time. In the meantime, combine the dry ingredients then cut in the shortening with your fingers or a pastry knife. Sprinkle the parsley in, then slowly add the milk while mixing slowly. Don’t over-mix.

Pat the dough together, turn out, knead twice then pat out to roughly 3/4 inch thick rectangle. Cut into twelve pieces and “dump” right on top of your chicken stew. Cover and steam for 15 minutes.

Serve it up.  You’ll want a big bowl.  Lisa always liked this Meridian’s Pinot Noir or a Mt. Eden Coastal Chardonnay.